Portrait of a Pupil, 1531

The ensemble of colours reflects the freshness of youth (the botanical green, the blooming red and the lightness of the skin) - all this displays a happy-natured novice of science who is determined and striving for higher goals (who is twelve years of age, as the artist has indicated in the upper right).

The boy is a student in a highly sophisticated grammar-school which supplied all becoming priests, judges and doctors with a mutual language and enabled them to begin their studies at the university. The politicians of the beginning sixteenth century had demanded an education and also a humane care for all children, both supplied and guaranteed through the state, regardless of any position. Still, although elevated state systems had recognised this need for care and education, there was still no public school system nor was there a school duty for children. Except for the grammar-school, there was only a writing school for future merchants and craftsmen which resemble the shorthand courses of our time ...

Jan van Scorel himself had been a dynamic and restless person with quite unconventional experiences from his travels through Europe, visiting Dürer as well as stopping off in Venice and Jerusalem. When coming to Rome, pope Hadrian VI appointed him administrator of the antique collection in the Belvedere ...

After this, being 30 years of age, Scorel returned to Utrecht where this portrait was created with some artistic freedom, showing us in a much different way than the pessimistic literature of that time, a young man who does not seem to be living in a time of unhappiness.